Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Pause

Sorry I haven't updated after that last entry. I recovered from my trip. I'm feeling ok. I've been to Seattle and California since and seen my mom and dad. Mom is fine, but mercurial as always. Dad is about the same, though possibly slipping ever so slightly. He and his wife are in their old folks building now and it's pretty depressing. It's a nice place and the food is good. They were able to reserve an apartment for me and the privacy was appreciated. Their apartment is very pleasant--two bedrooms, a full (unused) kitchen, and big living room/dining room space. The problem is that it's such a small world. They are right near a park and a lake. The park is ok, not wonderful. The lake is pretty but also pretty small. The building has activities of the old folks variety. I think I'm against this kind of living arrangement. The place is pleasant, the people are nice and friendly, but where are the young people? The middle-aged people? The children? It's also an incredibly white place. The only residents of color were Asian. Most of the staff was latino/a and a few were black. I didn't spot a single black or hispanic resident. My stepmother seems happy. My dad seems resigned. I think the move was a mistake for him but maybe it was good for her.

On the happy side, I am starting to enjoy my job. Several of the projects are interesting. I'm managing, informally, a couple of staff members and I really like that. I am getting along with my direct boss, and that's a good feeling. Work stuff is working out well. I'm also stepping up my social life--or trying to. I've signed up for swing dance lessons again--it's been a long time since I was dancing. Too long. I've also gotten into a pretty good morning exercise routine, started when I visited Seattle. To really make it work, I need to get up a little earlier, but at least I have a good (moral) reason for being late to the office.

Grateful for: liking my job.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Hope

I wish I could say everything is fine but it's not. It's just that there's nothing to do about it. My father is entering his second childhood. At least he seems happy rather than angry. I can tell he is frustrated sometimes and confused. He can still function pretty well by himself but I wonder how much longer he'll be able to go for a walk and not get lost. Since there is literally nothing to be done--he has seen doctors and they do what they can--it's upsetting but I move right to acceptance. I'm sad for me and for him...but he's still with us and he's still him so I'm grateful for that. I mean, I can't have the same kinds of conversations we used to but we can have conversations. He still knows me. That's something.

My niece is most definitely in an emotionally abusive relationship. This is more upsetting because we should be able to do something...yet we can't. Her mother is angry, sad, and frustrated. I feel the same--but those words don't really my feelings adequately. Like with my dad, these are feelings I don't know that I've had very often. You want so bad to just make it stop. To pluck her and the kids out of there house and take them away to somewhere safe, but you can't. You can't if she won't allow it. You can't if she has stopped talking to her family. You can't if you live in another country and don't even fully understand her culture and way of life. Really you can't do anything but feel sad and exhausted and ready to cry if you think about it too long.

Yeah, this isn't a fun trip. These trips to Israel never are but this one is something special. It does emphasize to me that I need to start taking a more active role keeping up the family connections. I relied on Dad and his wife to do that. Dad can't anymore and his wife is overwhelmed. So, I have been getting everyone's phone numbers and email. I will start calling more often. I will offer my ear and my love. That is what I can do.

Grateful for: hope.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Israel

This trip is expectedly miserable. I'm exaggerating. It's a slog with some bright points and an extra layer of angst. My dad is in bad shape. He remembers things like how they dug the Panama Canal (did you know a major challenge was that they had to dig through the edge of a mountain?) but not the years or dates of any of his three children's birthdays. I don't know how to explain how I feel about it. I'm sad that he's not quite the same person anymore. I'm happy that he's still around and the flashes of memory he shares are interesting. Last night, he told a long and fairly accurate story about an early phase of his career. He was unclear on some details but other parts were things I didn't know much about. He also asked a few times where I was born...New York, Dad!  Patience is the watch word but it's not easy.

I'm frustrated with myself because I get grumpy with people. I'm so good for so long and then, bam, I've hit my limit and I get a little short. DON'T tell me I made a wrong turn! Yes, I know I made a mistake. I will correct it if you give me a chance. I will ask for help if I need it. But those people (stepmother) who are telling me what to do (aka providing helpful suggestions) can't stop either. They are fighting all their instincts to sit quietly by and let me do my thing. What I don't understand about Susan is how she seems to want to maximize the time AWAY from our Israeli family. They are exhausting and spending time at their house means a lot of waiting around--but isn't being with them the entire reason we're here? Shouldn't we be maximizing it?

Anyway. Anyway. Things are ok. Saw my niece who has stopped talking to everyone. I saw her kids, her husband. Everyone seems fine, healthy, happy, and, in the case of the 2-year-old, screaming. I was able to report back to my brother (B2). He was glad but it doesn't resolve the bigger picture, which has to do with my niece's father-in-law. I'm not comfortable getting into it all...but this man is bad news. I was at least reassured that inside the family circle the relationships and behavior seemed normal. Not that one visit can tell everything...or possibly anything. Also she called her sister--the one getting married--the next day. Doubt that had much to do with me, but it probably had something to do with seeing me and her grandparents as a visible reminder of what is going on with the rest of the family. So, she called, and maybe that will be a first step to reconnecting. Being isolated and cut off is painful for everyone. If she can reconnect that will be a start.

What else? A funny thing about this trip is that I am still in touch with my two friends who I text with regularly. One is Marty, who I've coached to being supportive as I unburden the story of Israel. The other is my friend, Dan, who I met a bit over a year ago via a Facebook group. He's 20 years younger than me but we've become quite good friends. He even drove me to the airport! Anyway, he probably texts me once a day--nothing deep usually. We've kept up a more irregular communication while I've been abroad. It makes my travels more enjoyable. I didn't have people to hang out with in Paris, but I had Dan and Marty and the FB group to chat with when I got home after a long day of touring. In Paris, I even met one of the FB group members for a drink! In Israel, it provides that lifeline back home. Helps keep me a bit grounded and maybe I'm less grumpy because of it? Have to work on the grumpiness.

Grateful for: friends, near and far.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Where in the world?

I'm on the road again. At the moment, I'm in Tel Aviv, visiting my good old friend Spesh. Before this, I was in Paris for a few days. I have pictures and eventually I'll get some posted.

Things are good here. It's too hot. I'm surviving Spesh's vegan diet--I don't eat meat around him but when we eat out I'm merely vegetarian. Israel is actually a good place to be vegan-- falafel, hummus, and most of the salads don't have eggs or dairy. He keeps telling me he "eats well." I have to take his word for that.

I am here for a wedding. My youngest and last remaining Israeli niece is getting married on Sunday. I'm sad and happy. The great-niece/nephew count is up to 15. Two more are in utero.

I head to Jersualem tomorrow morning. I will be shuffling around a bit. I am renting a car and will be the shuttle service for my dad and stepmother. Dad really can't drive anymore. I'm happy to help but dreading the driving a bit. Jerusalem traffic and street patterns are difficult. I have driven there quite a bit but it was really nice when I could trade off with Dad. It's no picnic getting old for any of us.

Another niece is having problems that she confided to a sister but is now denying. When my brother (B2) confronted her, she stopped speaking to him. I'm wading into this a bit but I'm not going to confront her. I called her directly and plan to visit her tomorrow afternoon. My idea is to listen and be her friend. Maybe I can build a bridge back to her parents? I wish this weren't happening...but I'm here and I'm going to try and do my bit.

Grateful for: fortitude.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Orange

My new folding bike arrived yesterday. I took it on a little spin. It's a great little bike though the handling takes a little getting used to. I've already modified it by swapping the saddle. That was a huge improvement. I'm having another one of my slow Saturdays but I made it to the market. Just finished my brunch and I think I'll go for another short ride. Nothing like a brand new bike for motivation!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Blast from the past

I’m a bit overdue for an update. I had a bit of a tough time at work this week. I was thrown all the way back to the worst days at the old job. I find it still a bit painful to talk about…but here goes: my old horrible supervisor is now a client for my new company. Not her individually or directly, but a contract out of her division is something my company is working on. With my switch back to the housing group earlier this year, I started working on the project. I was taking on a larger role, slowly, and enjoying the chance to get hands on with the kind of work I’d previously been involved with from the other side. Maybe a week or so ago, ex-supervisor found out I was working on the project. And she tried to have me removed. The government isn’t allowed to tell a contractor who can work on a project, other than the “key personnel” and my company hadn’t yet put me in that status—though they were planning to. I guess she felt blindsided. Her arguments were along the lines of “we have a good team, I don’t want [Jamy] to take hours away from Fred or Steve.” She didn’t directly ask for my removal, but it was quite clear to my current boss that’s what she wanted. I talked to him about it and gave him some background. Two other bosses were involved in the discussion before I found out what was going on. They have no intention of removing me from the project, which is good. What got me really upset is the idea that she would try and block me from future work. I could easily be bid as the project manager—and would she find someway to eliminate our proposals—but really be biased against them on my account? Would I become a poison pill?

I was really, really upset on Thursday when it all came out.

Thursday night, I had a first date. As you might imagine, it didn’t go great. He was reasonably patient as I vented all over him…but I could see he was distracted and…bored? Or maybe confused. I rarely get as distressed as I was that night and pretty much never with a stranger. I was sort of hoping that he’d be a good, sympathetic listener and maybe provide some comfort. I assumed that, even under those circumstances, we wouldn’t have a second date. We did eventually move on to other topics but I dominated the conversation. That’s not always death but sometimes it is. I don’t expect to hear from him again (haven’t yet) and I have no plans to contact him. At some point in the middle of the date, he asked me to give it a grade and I said B- or C+ and he agreed. But, hey, I’ve had worse dates! He wasn’t an asshole or anything.

I was also texting with some friends and that helped. I have a few people I can talk to who understand and they helped me work though my feelings.

On Friday, I talked to another boss, a VP, at my company about the situation. He seemed to blame me, “This is a small town, you can’t burn bridges.” Wow. As though I didn’t try everything I could to repair things (maybe I didn't? I sure remember trying). At the same time, he also said I shouldn’t worry about it too much, they would keep me on the project, and I’d have work in the future. Both this boss and my direct supervisor told me stories about similar situations where someone took a dislike to them and wanted them off projects. The VP emphasized that they had to keep the client happy. He also gave me a mini-lecture about how I had to stop interrupting in meetings and do a better job listening. I pushed back on that—it was particularly galling because it’s the critique the horrible ex-supervisor used to give me. And it’s really unfair since I listen hard to other people and wait until I think the time is right to jump in. I think it’s a gendered critique and I told the VP that. But I also said I was willing to take any suggestions about how to change my behavior—that I would do any specific thing he asked. And I gave an example where I’d taken his advice in the past and changed the way I ran a certain kind of meeting. I have known this guy a long time, so I think it’s ok to have a frank discussion with him. The irony is that he’s actually a terrible listener! Oh well. I will talk to him again next week and make sure he understands I was upset and make sure everything is cool.

I did tell my direct boss about this exchange and he is totally with me. He got a similar mini-lecture from the VP about being a better listener. Haha! So, at least the person most directly in charge of me gets it.

I am feeling ok today but I had a kind of crazy whiplash experience where for a day I was thrown back into the past and had a concentrated dose of trauma. I talked to a friend from the old job who is working on the project in question. He said he defended me to the ex-supervisor, which was heartening. He said she was just upset because I didn’t like her. I reminded him that I didn’t start out disliking her. I was open to working with her but over time, it became impossible to bear her management style. I wanted to like her. I wanted to keep my job. She won. Can’t that be enough?

I stayed home all day yesterday. I was totally knocked out. I knit and knit and knit. I watched movies, tv, and knit and knit. Today, I’m feeling pretty back to normal. I’m going to try and keep the past in the past.

Grateful for: my new boss.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Balance

I’ve been busy…well, mentally anyway. All of my Israel plans fell apart and had to be reassembled. The youngest Israeli niece got engaged after we made our plans…and then they set a wedding date: July 17! That is about a month after I was planning to return from the June trip. So my stepmother and I had to scramble to change everything. I was able to rebook my flights for July, paying only the change fee. I kept my trip almost exactly the same—still have three nights in Paris, about the same time with Spesh (maybe a little longer). The only hit is that the car rental is about twice as much as before. It’s still under $200 for a bit over a week, so not too bad. I was pretty frustrated, but now I feel like I have some breathing room. I start to get mentally prepared weeks before I travel and now it feels like all this free space has opened up in my calendar. I’ve already almost finished the two new knitted hedgehogs (though I think I only needed one). I have a packing strategy in mind. My passport expires a year from July…I think I will still wait to renew it until after I get back, but I do have time to renew now if I start the process this week. I might even put my place on the AirBnB market, which I wasn’t going to do in June, just because it was too much of a pain to get things clean and ready for guests.

Last weekend, I went on a 17-mile organized bike ride in DC. I rode more like 20 since I biked to the start. For the ride, the streets of DC were closed, which was pretty cool. It was cold and damp but I’m glad it was cool! We got to ride over the Whitehurst Freeway! That was fun. I hope they have it next year, I’ll happily pay the fee and go again. Yesterday, I did another long bike ride—25 miles total—and it was pretty rough. It was nearly 90 degrees and I was dragging. On the long uphill of the first half of the ride, I was way behind the rest of the group. I didn’t have this problem last weekend and I figure it has to be the heat. At any rate, I survived and rode the whole way home. Physically, I feel fine today, which is kind of amazing. I was sure I’d be more sore. My shoulders are stiff, but that’s because I started up my shoulder exercises again this week. Biking may have exacerbated it a bit, it’s not the main cause. Anyway, it’s cool to be able to do these medium distances. I’d like to work up to 50 miles, but that probably isn’t in the cards for this summer. We’ll see.

Work continues well. The project I was working on got wrapped up quickly when my boss said he’d done some editing. I realized that I had to share my major reorganization with him so he wouldn’t be wasting his time. I managed to wrap it up in a day. He commented the next day, and we sent it to the editors on Friday. Deadlines. That’s what I need! However, with that project wrapped, I have to figure out what’s next. I have been working slowly and steadily on another project, which will now have to be the focus. It needs to wrap up someday too and I still don’t have a handle on the timeline. That’s what I’ll figure out next week.

And men…dating…all is well. Still involved with my two not-boyfriends. Liking them both for the very different people they are. Enjoying my interactions with both of them. Mostly. Marty continues to get me riled up. I wonder if that’s something I want? I know fighting is sort of my weakness. I hate it. I really hate it. But it also feels “normal” since I grew up with parents who fought constantly. Sometimes I get angry at Marty and I don’t even understand why. But Ian…I can’t even imagine getting angry at him. I’m not even annoyed with him anymore now that I understand his sense of humor better. I do wonder how sustainable this situation is, but so far so good. I still fit in other socializing—I went to a reception for the volunteers for the tutoring I’ve been doing last week. The best conversation I had was with a woman about her studies in theoretical linguistics. She’s moving to England so it’s not like we’re going to hang out, but oh well. I’m in a good place right now—a good balance. Work is pleasant, socializing is good, I have enough to alone time to recharge. I’m on the bike, I’m cooking at home. Sure, I haven’t vacuumed in a month, but nobody’s perfect.

Grateful for: balance.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Good

Things are good with me. I’m satisfied at work though I need to pick up the productive pace. I do have a hard time focusing and I’m not sure why. I know I need deadlines…maybe I need to set some intermediate deadlines for myself. I can try.

I’m still really happy with the new iPad but I'm struggling to figure out the best way to use it for blogging. I did find one app that works pretty well but it doesn’t put in paragraph breaks and I couldn’t get them to register even when I edited the HTML code. Weird. That means two editing runs, which is a pain. I’m trying something else today. Typing the post in an editor (Word for iPad) and cut and pasting to the web. That means I don’t have to be online for the writing, just the posting, but it’s still a two-step process, which I was hoping to avoid.

I have my trip to Israel and PARIS planned. Three nights in Paris. Three nights with Spesh in Tel Aviv, then the rest of the time in Jerusalem with the family. A bit over two weeks in total. I have found my AirBnB in Paris, rented the car in Israel, sent everyone my itinerary. I am knitting some hedgehogs for the unknown number of new arrivals in the Israeli next generation. One hedgehog is almost done and I hope to get up to three more completed before the trip. I’m also bringing some scarves and a vest I knitted months and months ago. I’m going to have to check a bag…seriously!...to accommodate the wealth of knitted goods.

And dating. Ok, so things remain kind of the same but I have also started seeing a new guy, Ian. He’s growing on me. He is definitely easier to deal with than Marty. These two are quite a contrast. One is tall and heavy, the other is short and medium. One is reactive and can be emotional, the other is calm no matter what. It’s not a case of mash them together and get one perfect guy…it’s more that they are so extremely different that I find it an enjoyable counterpoint. Marty involves some emotional effort on my part and he often leaves me feeling exhausted. The benefit is that sometimes I feel a real connection with him. Ian is very easy to deal with, though sometimes I he annoys me. But he doesn’t care and never gets angry. That’s helped me relax with him more. Because he’s mellow, there’s no strain to be with him, but I feel at a bit of a remove with him. The last time I saw him, he really started to open up and told me a lot about his family and I felt closer to him.

Altogether this is a strange situation and not one I ever expected to be in. I have mixed feelings about it. I like that I have people to connect with and spend time with. I think I would still prefer one “regular” boyfriend but I also have a lot of freedom and my day-to-day routine is the same as it ever was. From one perspective, this is an ideal situation. So, I dunno. I guess I’ll keep going for now but stop if I’m getting unhappy or frustrated.

Grateful for: freedom.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Early

I got up early this morning to watch the USS Barry leave its slip on the Anacostia River. It took three blue tugboats to get the Barry turned in the right direction and moving towards the bridge. Apparently the Barry’s engines don’t work because these three tugs were pushing and pulling it all the way. Not sure the final destination. A lot of folks came out and I met up with a small group of bicyclists to watch the towing.
USS Barry Departing Navy Yard
Sorry for the mediocre iPhone photography.

I looped back to the favorite local coffee shop, where I am now. Next is the farmer’s market and then home for a “condo work day.” A few hours of clearing trash and pulling weeds around the property with my neighbors. We did this once last year and it was good. And the rest of the day? Who knows. Take a nap? Go to a movie? 

In general, things are going well. I picked up another assignment at work and now I’d say I’m comfortably busy. Dating…there is a little. I had a proper date this week, in fact. He was enthusiastic but I wasn’t. Marty still lingers but we’re talking less and that’s good. I feel ok. Kind of level, even, calm. I’ll take it. Oh, and it looks like I’m going to Israel in June. Dad is going and asked me to join so I will. Will I try and stop in London or Paris on the way? How long will I stay? Gotta decide and get my tix today or tomorrow! That does stress me out a bit, but it’s a good problem to have. 


Grateful for: the calm. 

Sunday, May 01, 2016

To spend or not to spend

I just got a new iPad. I probably didn't need it but it's pretty sweet. The reason was so I could use the handwriting capabilities. Steve Jobs may be turning over in his grave, but the new stylus (the Apple Pencil) is amazing. I tried a stylus on my old iPad and it just didn't work very well. I prefer to take handwritten notes and now I can--on my iPad! This is truly the paperless future--probably. 

So that was real money. As much as a computer. Anyway, so I go to load my blogging app--and it no longer exists. I was using Blogsy--but it turns out they have stopped developing it and you can't get it in the iTunes store. Sad! The developers couldn't get it to work with the most recent iOS and couldn't make money--they folded up shop. Blogger has an app--or they did. It's gone too. Wordpress has an app but then I'd have to convert the entire blog to Wordpress...so much work for a blog I post on once a month! Finally, I found the app I'm using now, BlogPad Pro. We'll see if it works.  So, first big purchase--the iPad.

Next, I've been thinking about a fancy folding bike. It's a good idea, almost positive I'd use it a lot but it's real money and I'm having a hard time pulling the trigger.

Then I look around my house. I got this beautiful mid-century modern sofa set a few years ago but I don't love it. It's not comfortable for sitting. It wiggles. It's ok but not for me. It came with a coffee table and two end table--I don't need all that. The room is too full. I want a change. But then there are so many decisions to make...new sofa. New coffee table. What to do with my second sofa (yes, I have two now)...

And I need a new rug. The one I have in the living room is too small for the space.  A while ago, a friend suggested I get some built-in bookcases in the dining area. She's right. It's a good idea. But another decision.

How long will be here? Am I accepting this forever single life as my fate? But if I move in a year, it won't have hurt to put a few grand into making the place more comfortable.  I have the money--I'm lucky. I can afford all these changes. I pretty much know what I like. I could do it. But how do I get myself to start? 

Grateful for: options.